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Britten: The Five Canticles / Marcus Farnsworth

Album Summary

>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle I
>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle II, Op. 51 "Abraham and Isaac"
>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle V
>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle IV
>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle III, Op. 55 "Still Falls the Rain"
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

BBC Music Magazine, January 2014
It is the deep affection for this very special area of [Britten's] composition, and the sense of closeness and intimacy associated with Wigmore Halll performances and recordings, that characterises this welcome new releases of the complete Canticles. The strength of the teamwork is also palpable here.

Gramophone Magazine, January 2014
It is the live nature of the recording that makes this set stand out from its numerous rivals...the performances have a living, communicative quality, and the recording is warmly resonant, very nicely balanced. Singing in all five of the Canticles, Padmore is in good voice.

International Record Review, December 2013
So great is the concentration of the Wigmore Hall performance that a feeling of extraordinary stillness is conjured up. Drake's piano playing is superb, whether it be the jarring camel ride or the glacial cold of 'the very dead of winter'.

Sunday Times, 10th November 2013
Padmore, with his brighter, more lyrical timbre, makes just as much of the texts as did their first interpreter. His voice blends perfectly with Davies's as the Voice of God in Abraham and Isaac...Exemplary performances.

'A masterclass in producing expressively direct and unaffected Britten' was the Guardian's verdict on the sold-out Wigmore Hall concert on November 30, 2012 featuring all five of the composer's Canticles.

British tenor Mark Padmore's sweet and round timbre is central to these works, five focal points of the composer's output which subtly blend religious and secular themes with his distinctive sound world to captivating effect.

Pianist Julius Drake brings his carefully considered and sensitive playing to the stage, and his close artistic partnership with Padmore is wonderfully displayed in the first Canticle.

Countertenor Lestyn Davies, renowned for his charming and insightful interpretations, joins them for a performance of spine-chilling purity in 'Abraham and Isaac'.

The disc then features the enchanting sonority of Lucy Wakeford's harp accompaniment for the fifth Canticle, before continuing with an intoxicating blend of voices when Marcus Farnsworth joins Padmore and Davies for 'Journey of the Magi'.

The disc concludes with the third Canticle, which received its world première at Wigmore Hall in 1955. This release is set to mark a fine tribute to Benjamin Britten in his centenary year.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Wigmore Hall, London (11/30/2012).



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Works Details

>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle I :: My Beloved Is Mine, for high voice & piano, Op. 40
  • Performers: Iestyn Davies (Countertenor); Julius Drake (Piano); Marcus Farnsworth; Mark Padmore; Lucy Wakeford (Harp); Richard Watkins (Horn)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1947
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle II, Op. 51 "Abraham and Isaac" :: Abraham and Isaac, for alto, tenor & piano, Op. 51
  • Performers: Iestyn Davies (Countertenor); Julius Drake (Piano); Marcus Farnsworth; Mark Padmore; Lucy Wakeford (Harp); Richard Watkins (Horn)
  • Running Time: 16 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1952
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle V :: The Death of St Narcissus, for tenor & harp, Op. 89
  • Performers: Iestyn Davies (Countertenor); Julius Drake (Piano); Marcus Farnsworth; Mark Padmore; Lucy Wakeford (Harp); Richard Watkins (Horn)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1974
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle IV :: The Journey of the Magi, for countertenor, tenor, baritone & piano, Op. 86
  • Performers: Iestyn Davies (Countertenor); Julius Drake (Piano); Marcus Farnsworth; Mark Padmore; Lucy Wakeford (Harp); Richard Watkins (Horn)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1971
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Britten, Benjamin : Canticle III, Op. 55 "Still Falls the Rain" :: Still Falls the Rain, for tenor, horn & piano, Op. 55
  • Performers: Iestyn Davies (Countertenor); Julius Drake (Piano); Marcus Farnsworth; Mark Padmore; Lucy Wakeford (Harp); Richard Watkins (Horn)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1954
  • Studio/Live: Live